County Sales Tax Revenue Dips In First Quarter

Councilman Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2 and City Council president, discusses sales tax receipts during Monday’s City Council Finance Committee meeting. P-J photo by John Whittaker

Jamestown officials are still waiting for the city’s first quarter sales tax revenue to arrive from Chautauqua County.

A recent report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli suggests the city shouldn’t plan on the check being more than expected. Sales tax collections in Chautauqua County from January through March this year decreased 3.9% from the first quarter of 2023 from $21.45 million to $20.62 million. This year’s collections were close to 2023 levels in January and February but decreased 8.4% in March.

“I saw the report from Thomas DiNapoli – Chautauqua County is down,” said Tony Dolce, R-At Large and City Council president, during Monday’s Finance Committee meeting. “Some counties were up, some were down. It was all over the board. I wouldn’t say it was a lot, but countywide it was down.”

City officials aren’t trying to guess what the decrease in collections will mean for the city’s first quarter check, though Dolce did note neighboring Cattaraugus County’s first quarter sales tax collection was slightly more in 2024 than 2023 with collections showing the opposite trend from Chautauqua County with an 8.6% increase in money collected in March.

“Did they sell more cars in Cattaraugus County than Chautauqua County?” Dolce asked jokingly.

Statewide, DiNapoli reported sales tax collections totaled $5.6 billion in the first calendar quarter (January-March) of 2024, an increase of 1.6%, or $87.3 million, compared to the same quarter last year. While it’s an increase, DiNapoli said it’s the lowest rate of growth since the first quarter in 2021. And, the growth was largely driven by New York City, with several upstate regions experiencing a year-over-year decline for the quarter.

In the first quarter of 2024, New York City saw a 3.2%, or $79.4 million, increase in collections, accounting for nearly all statewide growth. The city’s first quarter collections represented over 45% of total statewide collections for the first time since 2019, after having dipped to 41%, on average, in 2020 and 2021.

New York City’s growth, DiNapoli said, reflects a tourism industry that has nearly fully recovered from the effects of the pandemic, in terms of the number of visitors and the economic activity being generated. In addition, hotel occupancy has improved and both business travel and Broadway attendance are seeing increased activity.

“Local sales tax collections in the first quarter showed modest year-over-year growth, led by New York City and its resurgent hospitality industry,” DiNapoli said. “The numbers from the city signal a healthy tax base and a return to its pre-pandemic role as a major driver of sales tax growth in the state. Collections outside the city were relatively flat, resulting from a variety of economic influences.”

First quarter collections for the counties and cities in the rest of the state, in aggregate, were virtually flat (-0.03%), year over year. This marked the first time that quarterly collections have not grown since the first quarter of 2021, though it was not unusual to see flat growth, or even declines, on a quarterly basis prior to the pandemic.

On a county-by-county basis, Westchester County had the strongest growth at 12.7%, followed by the counties of Sullivan (12.4%) and Allegany (7.3%). Yates County had the steepest decline at -7.1%, followed by Franklin County (-6.8%), as well as the counties of Erie and Delaware, at -6.4% each.


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